Etsy Knitters Street Team Event

The Etsy Knitters Street Team, of which I am a proud member, is celebrating spring with an event.  Presenting:

SPRING SCAVENGER HUNT – see the details here:

                       http://tinyurl.com/d35pnp

As with all scavenger hunts, there are things to search for and enjoy, and a prize at the end.  This event is linked to dozens of shopping discounts and free offers at our team stores.  ENJOY!!!

Peace

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Crochet Mitts, Handmade Selling, and the CPSIA

I’m in my house with my Friday night tv.  In two days I made two pairs of fingerless mitts for myself-the first one, from pink/purple/gray Kimono Angora, the second from Colinette Zanziba pale pink/gray/tan/teeny green.  They are both crocheted.  I also made a hairband or ear warmer from the Zanziba, complete with bow.  I am frustrated that camera troubles prevent me showing you.  I’m working on it.

 

As I’ve tried to expand my Etsy store, several issues have arisen.  Excuse me while I list them, but it makes them more orderly in my mind.  Actually, disorderliness of thoughts isn’t something that has bothered me in months.   I think all my lupus cerebritis symptoms have subsided-extra wonderful.  (Many thanks to the gods of B cell killing.)  Anyway, here goes:

1.  After the discovery of tainted toys made in China and sold by large U.S. manufacturers, Congress made an embarrassed knee-jerk reaction.  They passed a bill requiring testing of all children’s products in a particularly aggressive and expensive way.  As it is written, the bill (CPSIA) could put an abrupt end to small businesses that produce handmade childrens items-toys, clothing, bedding, anything that could be construed as made for use by a child under the age of 13.  There has been a rapid and intense response mounted by folks like me, and already concessions are being predicted.  You can read about it here, on change.org:  http://tinyurl.com/6cj92v
Hopefully, my http://turtletots.etsy.com still has a future. 

2.  I’ve joined two Etsy street teams, Etsy knitters and Etsy fiber arts, and I’m making acquaintances and enjoying the interplay of the two groups.  It could be a full-time job, just networking and communicating.  I have to figure out how to schedule this activity and make it an adjunct instead of a destination.  I’m enjoying the opportunity to help other members, I’m learning from members, and I have received a small increase in exposure, including two Treasury postings. 

3.  I must work on local exposure, and revival of the Chattanooga Etsy street team could be a large part of that.  Discussions in progress.

4.  I’ve gotta start my application for the Chattanooga Market.  March will be here before I can turn around.  I’ve already started making spring/summer scarves, and I want my other main item to be shells in natural fabrics.  By that, I mean womens sleeveless tops.  Probably tops for kids, too.  This will be fun.  I love going to the market, and I’m so much healthier that I know I can handle it alone this spring. 

 

Okay, now that we’ve said that, let’s get to today’s dinner.  Couple of days ago I read a recipe from Allrecipes.com with African-style beans and peanutbutter.  I know it sounds weird, but it’s a wonderful combination.  I cooked pintos and diced onion in my crockpot until tender, then added a can of diced tomatoes.  I didn’t have any peanutbutter so I used a half-cup of tahini (sesame butter), mixing it in well and letting the whole thing simmer a little longer.  I seasoned it with salt and Neo Masala seasoning from Alchemy Spice (see http://alchemyspice.com).  I had a little avocado on the side, and some whole grain bread.  Utterly heavenly. 

 

There’s a blog I’ve been keeping from you, but I cannot hide it any longer.  The young student who writes  Everything Up Close (http://everythingupclose.blogspot.com) has an uncanny ability to select great products for review.  Most of the companies that give her items for review also let her conduct a drawing for one of their products.  She has introduced me to some fabulous products.  Last week, she presented something that made me say “Hallelujah!”  If you are tired of looking at young (and occasionally old) women whose rear view consists of a shirt tail and low-rise jeans that do not touch, you will love the “Hip-T”.  Check it out here:  Everything Up Close: Hip-T Review & Giveaway!   If you go quickly, you might get in on the giveaway.  I couldn’t wait that long.  My daughter is getting one for Valentine’s Day.  I wish I could stand on the street corner and distribute them.  President Obama needs to give serious thought to requiring them before his daughter’s reach That Age.  You know, the age of the reveal.  The age of the exposed thong.  The Bare Age. 

 

Okay, time to go.  Getting obsessive. 

Peace.  Big ol’ sweet, smooshy peace.

Much “To Do” on My List

My “To Do” list was so long Thursday that I had to write it down and recheck everything.  Now I’ve crossed off a few items and it is feeling bearable, so I can spend a few minutes writing.  My father-in-law is leaving on a mission trip to the Gulf coast, and I searched out and packed a couple dozen kids hats and scarves that I knitted to donate.  That took a few of my big minutes.  When I left the kids’ market I had three new custom pieces to plan and execute.  One is now finished, and the yarns for the other two are chosen and I’ve knit a few rows on the hardest one.  In addition, I’m still working on the black cashmere mittens for my cousin.  My heavier, machine washable wool came from KnitPicks and I made a bit of a start on my mom’s Christmas throw.  I also completed the trimming details on the spa girls’ orders:  customelannwashwoolcapmittscustomnorocapcustomswtccapandmitt2The large top green and bottom square black buttons are handmade.  I’ve begun to find artists who have the same aesthetic as me for those kinds of details.  For instance, my favorite etsy store for the purchase of  porcelain  buttons is www.Sumiko.etsy.com.   My favorite for wooden buttons is www.South4th.etsy.com.  There’s nothing like customizing your designs with original details that complement your knitwork. 

 

My biggest project for the weekend was adding the Basic Luxury line to my store.  I put in a shop announcement, then posted about five items from the collection.  You can see them here:  www.Essiewb.etsy.com, including these caps:  blbluecapspiral2bllilaccapblorangecap

I’m proud to be adding quality pieces that are truly priced to give anyone with a slender wallet a taste of luxury handknitting.  Ear warmers are $9 for adults, $5 for kids; adult caps are $12.  I hope to add some scarf/neckwarmers for about $15 and some kids’ caps for $9.  I’m pleased with the designs.  They are all pieces that I would wear or be happy to give.  To me, the key is keeping yarn quality high.  I can’t let this deteriorate into a pile of acrylic cheapies.  The yarns above are all either Rowan’s Big Wool Fusion or Brown Sheep Burlyspun.  Great stuff.

 

I get to be Santa Claus at the knitting group’s fast-approaching secret Santa event.  I have party favors for everyone, super-inexpensive fun stuff.  If I have time, I’ll knit up a quick red and white hat. 

 

All afternoon the abcFamily channel has run the Harry Potter movies.  We’re on the third one.  I’ve been enjoying them while I knit.  I missed a few spots to take my pieces outside for photos, and when I made a quick blueberry pie.  If I had a bit of that talent with magic, I could continue writing this while I went on with my knitting, but I’m pretty much an earthbound muggle.  

Peace.

Marketing Morning with Chemo

Wow!!  I have been busy working lately, and I love it.  My store is beginning-after two years-to feel real, like it could be a successful enterprise, instead of a hobby.  I’ve gotten sales and orders from a variety of sources all over the country and in Canada, mostly in a trickle until recently.  This is the busiest holiday season I’ve had so far, reflecting the increased awareness of Etsy as THE place to shop for handmade, artisan wares and also reflecting my greater (but still not adequate) attempts at marketing.  Marketing will definitely be my focus for the new year.  I’m going to stop being shy about putting my products in front of people and asking them to give us a try. 

 

So right now on the needles I have a bamboo scarf, because people are discovering that nothing is softer and silkier than the longspun versions of that fiber.  The look and feel of it attract, and the renewable nature of the plant validates the choice.  This one is Plymouth’s Royal Bamboo, knit simply in squares with some garter stitch rows interspersed, and with special fringing at the ends.  I’ve just sold one, and it was special enough to make a similar design. 

 

On other needles, little tiny ones, I have two strands of black Karabella Supercashmere Fine, making mittens for my cousin.  I’m writing down this one as I go, so that I won’t have to struggle reading my work from the black.  That is the hardest color to knit with-demands good light and sometimes a little squinting.  These mittens are going to be the bomb.  It will be a shame if she doesn’t buy the cabled black cashmere hat to match. 

 

Anyway, just a quick update as I’m on my way to get my lovely IV treatment and lounge in the chemosuite all day.  Taking some products and some knitting with me, of course. 

Peace.

We’re Talking About My Day, Aren’t We?

Okay, pretend I’ve made some clever opening to this post and we are in the middle of discussing my day. 

 

…and then I decided it was past time for me to work on my store.  Yes, that’s right, my Etsy store.  So I took out the three baby sweaters that I haven’t put into the store yet, and photographed them, edited my photos, and made the postings.  What do you mean?  Oh, the process…I log into my store and go to the operations page.  After I select the prompt to add a new item to the store, it leads me through each step.  All I have to do is fill in the blanks.  Well, no, not that easy.  I have to name the item, write a description of it and list the materials it is made of.  Then I assign tags to it, choose the proper category for mailing, and upload photos of the item.  Oh yeah, I have to assign a price.  And most of the time I have to check the measurements of the garment or accessory so I can include them in the description and assign it a size.  Finally, with all the pages complete, I look at the final display and mark it approved.  The item appears in my store within seconds.  I can also turn to the fron page of Etsy and wait to see it pass by in the constant display of items being posted.  That’s kind of cool. 

 

Yes, I did this three times today.  Mmm, two hours if you include the photography part.  I had a little trouble with the photos, because my back is so achy, and I have to stand for a while to do them.  I had to put all thoughts of the back on the back burner (hehe, I am so funny) while I held the camera steady and tried different angles and lightings for the little sweaters.  I decided to photograph them against a background of vintage fabric.  I get horrible color changes when I try to photograph outside (?my camera…?the camera recording the colors interaction with UV from the sun), and I want my listings to be true to the actual colors. 

 

These are the sweaters I listed:    I know, I know, I knitted them ages ago.  They should have been posted but I haven’t been doing proper store maintenence.  I noticed that I need to knit some baby blankets for the store.  My supply is exhausted.  That’s something I enjoy, too.  But for right now, the babies of the world have lovely handknit sweaters made from natural materials.     Sure, I can give you the store address again:  it’s www.essiewb.etsy.com.  Remember, we never close!  I know.  It’s been a long day.  I also knitted some more on that orange/brown/tan/purple mat that I’m making.  I am loving it.  It is 34 inches long and I’m not inclined to bind off yet.  I’ll lose at least a quarter of the length when I felt it, and I’d like it to be a nice-sized rug.  I learned to hook rugs in high school.  I made myself a rug that’s about 2.5 x 2 feet, and it stayed by my bed on top of the carpet.  It has a bar of music and I made sure when I designed it that the music made a tuneful phrase when you played it.  It’s still there in my parents’ home.  That bedroom, from my teen days, was shared with my younger sister.  It is the same color as my bedroom now.  That’s how I recognized this house as the one I should buy. 

 

Speaking of the parents’ house, you know I spent some time there this week.  While I was there, I was sitting in the family room with my mom and dad when discussion turned to the numerous family photos and how to display them.  My father referred to the constantly growing collage of photos on the refrigerator, a tenuously anchored collection that is always subject to landslide.  “There’s a picture of your mother on there where she’s sitting in her chair, looking so sweet it makes you just want to go and kiss her.”  They’ve been married more than 65 years, and the love between them is still palpable. 

Who wouldn’t want to have that, a love that lasts a lifetime and is still sweet?  A familiar, comfortable partner to share the perils and adventures of old age?  Someone who knows you and your life, who appreciates your memories and experiences?  It doesn’t matter if those memories include the dumbest things you’ve done in your life, or if you haven’t always been treated the partner the way you intended.  The persistance, the endurance, the growth of the relationship is what matters. 

 

Okay, now this is getting soupy, isn’t it?  I’m going to knit.  Thanks for listening.  Nice to have you here.

 

Peace.                     

Christmas Gifts

xmasgifts-001.jpgMornin’ people!  I  am ashamed of myself.  I call myself a knitter and I’ve waited ten days to tell you the fabulous yarn and needles I received as Christmas gifts.  Everybody has their favorites among knitting needles and I’m no different.  Generally I like bamboo and other woods for warmth and slightly blunted tips.  Dayna went shopping for me at Etsy and unknowingly chose the same needle store I selected a year ago.  Chelle (www.chelle.etsy.com) handmakes her needles and caps them with beautifully weighted ceramic ends that are painted in gorgeous flowers or adorned with humorous slogans.  I opened a stout cardboard cylinder to find one of each – a pair of needles with beautiful flower ends and some with deep blue caps with the words “Yarn Snob”.  xmasgifts-005.jpg

My daughter knows me!  The needles are light as air, smooth and waxed, and well-balanced.  I picked up the larger pair and immediately began to knit with…

xmasgiftsb.jpgxmasgiftsc.jpg

…my second knitting gift, which was a box of yarn from Suss in Beverly Hills, California.  My ex was visiting L.A., knew of Suss Cousins through a mutual friend, and spent an hour in her shop looking at her lush fibers.   I am a total fan of her designs, and if I used other people’s patterns hers would be at the top of my list.  According to the ex, her store is wonderful (you can see photos at her website, www.SussDesigns.com), stocked with her gorgeous yarns, some of which are on display at the website.  He selected a multistrand yarn with beautiful components including a narrow ribbon, a tiny strand with intermittent squares of ribbon, a feathery roving, and two thin crinkly strands.  It knits easily and I had a knee-length, fringed, seed-stitch scarf before I knew it.  The best is that I have five skeins left!  Party!

sussscarf.jpg

One of my sisters went the other direction with a pile of Ultra Alpaca Light from Berroco in a deep, rich, cherry red.  Already I see another pair of mitts coming from this tightly twisted yarn.  Or an airy shawl.  She sent me at least 600 yards, I can have a great splurge! 

xmasgifts-004.jpg

My mother-in-law added new scissors to the usual bagful of gifts from her and the father-in-law, and just in time!  My old “good” scissors had cut through one too many pieces of cardboard.  Now I have the new Singer sewing scissors in large and small sizes. 

I received lots of other fabulous gifts that are as much appreciated as the ones I’ve described.  I am surprised by something every year.  The people around me are creative and generous.  What a blessing!  I even appreciate the neti pot, although at first I questioned the motives of the sister who felt we all needed to be introduced to the practice of pouring salty water through our nostrils.  Is that really love? 

Today I am giving up a wonderful knitting group session to go see my little old parents.  I KNOW that is love!  Oh well.  Knitting has been here for centuries and will persist.  My parents are 88 and 89 and fed me.

Peace.

Just Another Manic Tuesday

I got out of bed this morning and nothing hurt.  I walked to the kitchen, took out the oatmeal that I had already prepared in the rice cooker, added some yogurt, fixed a cup of coffee…still nothing was hurting.  This is a cool day.  It doesn’t mean I’m cured or that the current flare of lupus activity is gone.  It means that I’m starting this day with a bonus, the blessing of not having any pain.  I don’t dwell on the pain because it is so frequent and diffuse, and because I have long since come to terms with the fact that it goes with the disease.  But I do notice its absence. For myself, I’ve made the decision to treat pain only when it is really severe or when it truly limits me from doing something that feels necessary.  I can’t use up 90 pain pills in a year, and that’s usually a modest month’s prescription of the pain medicine my doc has prescribed.  My focus is to treat the disease that is causing the pain, and to stop the long-term consequences of both the disease and the medications that I take for it, so it seems silly to waste pill-taking that doesn’t help the disease.  I know that doesn’t work for everyone and I never prescribed for others based on my own pain tolerance or philosophy, but I have certainly described that philosophy to others.  I cannot feel like a good doc if I concur with someone’s desire to treat only the pain and not try and get at the underlying cause if it is treatable. I think that desire to understand the disease, to know why a certain disease affected the body in a particular way, and what part of that caused the pain or disability or other visible manifestations of the disease, was the strongest reason I chose medicine as a career.  That went hand in hand with knowing how to affect the disease, change its course, or cure it.  Cool stuff.  But there are a number of other reasons that choosing medicine happened, and today is not the day for that discussion.I am still in the process of posting new items in the store.  In case you haven’t noticed my scattered references, you can see it at http://www.essiewb.etsy.com/.   Yesterday I photographed some items on my mannequin, Estelle, and then measured them and began to post.  Dayna offered to help and I turned the laptop over to her and walked her through the posting procedure, and she enjoyed it and turned out to be very good at it.  She knows how to breeze through the software, she is good at describing my handmade products, and she types like a demon.  She taught herself how to type as a kid and it is totally unorthodox and quite effective.  I didn’t want to “fix” what wasn’t broken so I never sent her to a keyboarding class.  Anyway, we got started on the posting and will continue today.  It’s bright and sunny and I might take some of the photos outside. While we watched the gorgeous Denzel Washington in Deja Vu last night I finished the second block in the second strip of Dayna’s afghan.  I was a little apprehensive about the stitch I used, but when I finished and started the third block I could see that it was going to fit in beautifully.  Sometimes when you are knitting it seems that a project is turning sour and it’s tempting to put it down, but it can be a transient spell of needing to push on and see the more completed perspective.  Hmmm.  I probably could have used that as marriage advice.  That is soooo the stuff of a million later (much later) posts.For now, the sun leaking around my curtains is calling to me, and I want to grab my camera and some products and make some photos outside on the deck.  I hope you have something to do today that will be a pleasurable challenge.  (Yes, I did just make that dorky statement, and I meant every word of it!)Peace.